Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Temple of Augustus and Roma in Ankara
|The Res Gestae Divi Augusti
("the achievements of the deified Augustus") are the official
autobiography of Augustus, the
man who had renovated the Roman Empire during his long reign from 31
BCE to 14 CE. The text tells us how he wanted to be remembered. It is
best summarized in the full title: "the achievements of the
deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the
sovereignty of the Roman people, and of the amounts which he expended
upon the state and the Roman people". In other words - it is propaganda.
The text, which was inscribed on two columns near the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, has survived as an inscription in the temple of Roma and Augustus in modern Ankara (ancient Ancyra; satellite photo). The text, which was first published by the famous botanist Charles de l' Écluse (or Clusius; 1526-1609), is not complete, but there are other copies (from Antioch and Apollonia in Pisidia); the first scholar to combine them and publish a scientific edition was Theodor Mommsen (1883²).
The translation offered here, made by F.W. Shipley, was copied from LacusCurtius, where you can also find the Greek and Latin text.
of the acts of the Deified Augustus
by which he placed the whole world
under the sovereignty of the Roman people, and of the amounts which he
expended upon the state and the Roman people, as engraved upon two
bronze columns which have been set up in Rome.
 [44 BCE] At the age of nineteen, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army by means of which I restored liberty to the republic, which had been oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. For which service the senate, with complimentary resolutions, enrolled me in its order, [43 BCE] in the consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, giving me at the same time consular precedence in voting; it also gave me the imperium. As propraetor it ordered me, along with the consuls, "to see that the republic suffered no harm." In the same year, moreover, as both consuls had fallen in war, the people elected me consul and a triumvir for settling the constitution.
who slew my father I drove into exile,
punishing their deed by due process of law,
and afterwards when they waged war upon the republic [42 BCE] I twice defeated them in battle [at Philippi].
both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, and
victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The
foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned
I preferred to
save rather than to destroy. The
number of Roman citizens who bound
themselves to me by military oath was about 500,000. Of these
or sent back into their own towns, after their term of
service, something more than 300,000, and to all I assigned
gave money as a reward for military service.
six hundred ships, over and
above those which were smaller than triremes.
Bust of Augustus (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida)
Twice I triumphed with an
I celebrated curule triumphs,
and was saluted as imperator
Although the Senate
decreed me additional triumphs I set them aside.
When I had performed the vows which I had undertaken
in each war
I deposited upon the Capitol the laurels which adorned my fasces.
successful operations on land and sea, conducted either by myself
or by my lieutenants under my auspices, the senate on fifty-five
occasions decreed that thanks should be rendered to the immortal gods.
The days on which such thanks were rendered by decree of the senate
numbered 890. In my triumphs there were led before my
chariot nine kings or children of kings. At
the time of writing these words [14
CE] I had been thirteen times consul,
and was in the thirty-seventh year of my tribunician
| The dictatorship offered me by the people and the Roman Senate, in my absence and later when present, in the consulship of Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius [22 BCE] I did not accept. I did not decline at a time of the greatest scarcity of grain the charge of the grain-supply, which I so administered that, within a few days, I freed the entire people, at my own expense, from the fear and danger in which they were. The consulship, either yearly or for life, then offered me I did not accept.|
by Jona Lendering for
Revision: 18 February 2007